4. Follow the disaster. The Dunlaps have booked some of their most affordable vacations by traveling to destinations other tourists may have ruled out because of natural disasters or political issues. Three years after the SARS outbreak in China, many American tourists were still reluctant to visit the country. But the Dunlaps visited China for a fraction of what it would normally cost because the Chinese government subsidized the trip to encourage tourism. "We investigated it and saw that it was all clear so we took advantage," Wayne says.
Last year, they visited the Greek Islands after reports of austerity in Athens scared away other tourists. "There was devastation in Athens, but the rest of the country was just fine, especially the Greek Islands," Wayne says. "We went during peak season, walked in and were negotiating rates with them."
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Greenberg says tourists should consider visiting Egypt and Haiti for these reasons. "The first thing they're going to rebuild is the infrastructure for travel and tourism," he explains. "You get to immerse yourself in a culture and not be in a crowd." Still, using common sense is key to safely executing this strategy. "If the entire country is involved in civil war, that's another story," Greenberg adds.
5. Consider alternate airports. Instead of defaulting to the closest – or biggest – airport, consider others nearby. "Let's say you're flying out of New York," says DiScala, who runs the website AlternateAirports.com to help travelers identify airport options. "Instead of typing in 'LaGuardia,' type in 'NYC,' [and] get all NYC airports including Newark and JFK. Every city has an alternate airport." If you're buying several tickets, the cost savings can really add up, he adds. Don't forget to factor in the time and cost of transportation to where you're staying to make sure an alternate airport makes the most sense.